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Media Rules on Covering a Presidential Campaign
Media Rule Number 7: Run with the Big Dog. That's me talking my way into Big Dog's heart. Photo submiitted by Mike Bugg.

Time is always the enemy in coverage of any major political event in modern America. So it was with the Bernie Sanders Rally in Paducah, KY. on Sunday, May 15, 2016. Some 50 media reporters were screened for entrance into the rally. Twenty or so large television cameras were set up to fully record the rally.

However, there were invisible media rules at work.

The first step in media political campaign 101 is to establish who is charge of reporters. This can be done by locating that one person, just outside the entrance, who looks totally stressed. Reporters are hungry animals fighting tight and often impossible story deadlines.

The Sanders ground staff had just announced at 10:00 am that all reporters, who were certified, would be allowed into the Julian Carroll Convention Center promptly at 10:30 am. The reporters got into the security station at 11:20 am.

Media Rule number 2, "Never believe timetables in the midst of the mob attempting to break into a large political event."

Media Rule number 3, "Stay close to the door and whoever is in charge for when the signal is given for opening up the gates, a mob mentality takes shape." Reporters must be ready for sprinting into the building.

Media Rule number 4, "Always be subservient to the security forces on hand. Try not to make direct eye contact for fear of setting off alarms in the minds of much wired tightly men with guns."

Media Rule number 5, "Stake out the geography of the main action as soon as possible. Determine where the best four feet of room is right for the Money Shot." The Money Shot is what editors must have for either print or media that tells the event story in one shot or one frame.

Media Rule number 6, "Make sure all of your camera equipment is secured in carry on bag, fully charge for duration of event, and back up digital cards are in the bag." After all, good personal photojournalism often is best practiced with sharp elbows and close infighting for camera position. There is no time for taking time to set up a photo. Many times, the Money Shot happens in a matter of 1 to 3 seconds.

Media Rule Number 7, "Run with the Big Dog. As soon as possible upon entering the event geography, find the biggest media outlet, national name or behind the scenes techs who control the flow of media access to the event."

Local media powerhouses, like Channel 6 in Paducah, come as a team and work as a tight team. There is no space for working with others.

NBC, CNN, and most foreign media will let you stand near their physical position in the press box. They usually have good camera angle position and the party or candidate staffs tend to stay clear of them.

Media Rule number 8, "Stay clear of the Secret Service. They have no humor or patience with media. Their job is protecting the candidate. They rule the entire structure of the event. As media, you do not want to be tossed out the event before you get the Money Shot. By the way, they play rough. (This is the Big Brother of Media Rule number 4)

The event was well scripted for who sat where, who took photographs and in what manner. This time the media went away happy. Security looked relieved at the end of the event. Nothing to report.

It worked smoothly with this candidate's appearance.


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